Loans from the Smithsonian Institution

Lucayan Artifacts Return Home

“Barrowing” Back our History

As part of the Museum’s ongoing plans to bring the visitors the best objects to help interpret the story of the Islands’ history we have been adding to our collections. However, there are also many items held in overseas museum collections, which were removed from these Islands over the last 200 years. This includes several objects held by various departments of the Smithsonian Institution.

Our main request was to the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. After much correspondence with Eric Satrum, the Assistant Registrar of loans, it was finally agreed that four of the items could initially come on loan to the Museum. These included a pottery parrot head, a bone pendant, a carved stone axe and a carved seated figure. These items were collected from the Smithsonian stores in October 2001 so that they would be present at the opening of the Lucayan Gallery.carved seated figure|64
Carved Seated Figure on loan from the Smithsonian.

These items add a great deal to the Lucayan Gallery. It is hoped that further loans will be made in the future and the Museum is very grateful that the Smithsonian Institution have agreed for these items to be displayed on Grand Turk. The Museum thanks Eric Satrum for all his assistance during our application.

Just as a passing note, it is worth mentioning the journey the items took from Washington to Grand Turk. The Museum Director went to Washington to personally collect the items that were being loaned to the Museum. Imagine, at a time of heightened security following September 11, carrying a range of objects through customs and security checks. The looks on the faces of security staff in Washington as the case passed through the X-ray machine was a “Kodak moment.

duho in safety case|96

Eventually there was 6 or 7 staff on hand to view the contents of the case (at right) to make sure that the objects were not a security risk: try telling someone that even though the list included a stone axe, the axe was harmless and was less of a risk as a weapon than the case it was being carried in. After an impromptu history lesson on the Lucayans, and where the Turks and Caicos Islands were, the friendly and courteous security staff allowed the objects to continue their journey. In Providenciales the case was again checked by the security staff, but this time the Museum was fortunate that this was an ex-member of Museum staff.